Rice: The soul of Vietnamese cuisine

The aged long Vietnamese culinary art is well-known for its meticulosity and diversity. It is also rich in cultural values. Of all the dishes that tell the story of Vietnam, there is the appearance of rice. Rice is the utmost key ingredient in Vietnam…

1. The origin of rice

There is much debate about the origin of nowadays domesticated rice. The genetic evidence published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) shows that all forms of Asian rice, including indica and japonica, originated from a domesticated species which was created 8,200–13,500 years ago in China from the wild rice Oryza rufipogon. A study about nature published in 2012, revealed a map of genetically modified rice, showing that rice domestication took place in China's Pearl River Valley. From East Asia, rice was spread to the south and Southeast Asia. And since then, rice came to Vietnam.

The Vietnamese have been used to rice that they cannot even tell exactly the time they first knew the plant. Thousands of years passing, rice became an indispensable food and naturally, it shaped the Vietnamese cuisine.

2. Rice - a treasure of Mother Nature that holds Vietnamese soul

Vietnam has a very early rice civilization, since it is located in the region of tropical climate: hot, humid, monsoon. For that reason, a variety of crops flourished, of which rice is the most significant one. 

Step by step, rice grain has entered into many aspects of social life, as well as in legends, fairy tales, folklore and worshiping worship in many regions. Digging into Vietnamese culture, no one can miss the legend of Banh chung and Banh day. Among hundreds of exotic dishes from all over the globe, Hung King highly appreciated the Banh chung and Banh day of Prince Lang Lieu, simply because “ The person who makes these two must understand the meaning of heaven and earth, must love to work, and respect every grain of rice made by the farmers who had to be working so hard in harsh conditions..."

 

But the main reason why rice plays such an important role in Vietnamese culture is its symbolic meaning. Looking at the way rice grows and shapes itself, you can see an image of such an ordinary Vietnamese. Rice is grown in muddy fields, yet it refines all the best nutrition and condense them into its best product - the fruit, or the rice you see on your plate. Its appearance is nothing significant - light, delicate in green and yellow. And when you look at any Vietnamese, you see the similarities. Vietnamese people are humble, simple and subtle, yet bold and very determined at the same time. They minimize the unnecessary details in saving for one best thing - as the rice crop saves for its fruit. That’s another Vietnamese spirit: willing to sacrifice when needed.

3. How rice blends into daily Vietnamese meals

The most common and popular variable of rice is definitely “Com” (Cooked/ boiled rice). It is best served hot, with moist texture and good smell. It tastes really light, that’s why there are usually accompanying food served with.

 

Another famous dish made from rice is Bun (Noodle or Rice Vermicelli). Bun comes in 2 forms: fresh (tuoi) and dry (kho). It is thin in shape, and also tastes light so there will be another salty dish to be eaten together. Bun is usually cooked with pork shank broth, combined with different kinds of toppings: crabs, grilled pork, beef,...

 

One kind of noodle (made from rice) that is worth trying is hu tieu (Clear rice noodles). These squarish rice noodles are really a popular choice for breakfast to Vietnamese people, especially those living in the South. What can be mixed with Hu tieu is rather similar to those with Bun. Hu tieu is normally dipped in broth, topped with pork or pork liver, shrimp (and other kinds of seafood) and vegetables.

 


All in all, rice is just not a representative of Vietnamese cuisine, it is part of the culture, and it reveals the human here. Prevalent as it may be, it is still highly valued by local people for being nutritious and spiritual valuable.

If you are looing for a place to satisfy your curiosity about Vietnamese cuisine, then Lang Lieu is exactly where you should head to!

Named after the progenitor of Vietnamese cuisine, we dedicate ourselves to providing a special journey back time so that every guest can fully sense Vietnamese culture-rich history through the food we serve. Our menu presents signature traditional dishes in Northern Vietnam, from the Old Quarter of Hanoi to the mountainous North-West and North-East. Also, located right in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, Lang Lieu has such a tranquil vibe that you will immediately find peace the moment you step past the door. 

Book a table and start your culinary journey with us!